I: Oscar Allen and The World He Lived In The County Election by George Caleb Bingham. Accessed via Wikimedia commons

Oscar D. Allen was born in 1843 in the small town of Croydon, New Hampshire.  Oscar’s father, Hiram Allen, was a farmer and his mother, Martha, was a transplant from Vermont. In the year 1850, there were seven members of the Allen family household: In addition to Oscar, Hiram and Martha Allen raised nine-year-old August, twelve-year-old Alonzo and ten-year-old Edwin. On September 1st, 1858, Hiram Allen died. By 1860, the Allen household consisted merely of the eldest son Alonzo, the youngest Oscar and their widowed mother, Martha. Alonzo taught at the local school and Oscar worked the Allen homestead with his mother.  

The Rule of Ruel Durkee  

Oscar Allen was nine years old when, on November 2nd, 1852, fellow New Hampshire native, Franklin Pierce was elected president on the Democratic ticket, Pierce’s home state helping propel him into the oval office. For Oscar, who had grown up in the foothills of the mighty White Mountains of New Hampshire, this was likely his first major experience with politicking. Although there is no way of knowing to which party Oscar owed allegiance, it is safe to assume he belonged to the Democratic party, represented in Croydon by its prominent son, Ruel Durkee. A political boss representing the backwoods Democrats of the Granite State, Ruel Durkee was never elected to any post higher than that of town selectman, but his political cunning would earn him much clout. Described as “a man of little education, who through innate force and the power of personality, had come to assume a wide influence in the state” Durkee was a constant presence at all political conventions and sessions of the state legislature and was “never to be ignored in the deliberations of his associates.” It was under the machinations of this rural political icon that Oscar grew up and therefore, likely cast his lot with the Democrats. During this period, politics were highly localized affairs. Communities often voted homogenously, and under the powerful leadership of Durkee, Croydon belonged to the party of Jefferson and Jackson. But power in the young republic was shifting. Painful sectional division strengthened the new Republican party in New Hampshire; nevertheless, in local elections, Democrats maintained strong showings. When the first shots in Charleston Harbor in April of 1861 rocked the Union, New Hampshire boasted both a Democratic governor and state legislature. Oscar likely heard an impassioned stump speech made by Ruel Durkee that April, filled with the same Jacksonian themes of democracy, equality and union he had been hearing all of his life. His heart stirred by Durkee’s polemics, Oscar measured his tread with his neighbors for the seven miles to Newport to join the company being raised there in response to the national emergency. Those seven miles would be the first on a long road leading to Gettysburg. 

II: Oscar Allen’s Civil War Reproduction State Flag of the 5th New Hampshire. Accessed via New Hampshire Battle Flags Preservation Committee

Uniform of the 1st New Hampshire. Don Troiani, Accessed via Wikimedia Commons.

On April 27th, 1861, Oscar Allen enlisted in the 1st New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry Company D. Signing on for only three months, Oscar believed this to be ample time to crush the rebellion and save the Union. Instead, Oscar would spend those three months drilling in the resplendent red-trimmed gray uniforms of the New Hampshire militia. Much to their chagrin, rather than fighting in the vanguard, the 1st New Hampshire languished, garrisoning a post near Harpers Ferry, Virginia. Thomas Livermore, who would serve alongside Oscar in the 1st and 5th New Hampshire wrote of this encampment: “The camp was full of jollity in the cool parts of the day, and the rest of the time was spent in keeping cool under the trees or drill, picket, guard, or police duties. There were some comical characters in the regiment with whom we had great fun, and the negroes aided us in that particular with their singing and dancing.” These encounters with runaway slaves were likely Oscar’s first interactions with African Americans, as fewer than two hundred lived in New Hampshire in 1860, with none living in Croydon proper. Such encounters with black Americans would be the first of many for Oscar and his fellow Granite Staters. Slavery more than likely proved strange, backward and repugnant to these New England Yankees, but in the soldier’s view, their presence and primary mission in the South was unconnected to emancipation. For now, runaways were an amusement, but later, they would become a political controversy of epic proportions. The summer came and went without the 1st New Hampshire ever seeing battle. Nevertheless, the 1st New Hampshire received a hero’s welcome when they returned to Concord on August 9th, after three months service. Ironically the one “skirmish” in which the 1st New Hampshire would engage in before disbanding would take place in the capital itself.  

The 1st ‘s climactic end to its service was an assault on the office of the Concord newspaper The Democratic Standard. The paper had recently published an article vilifying the volunteers of the Granite State, describing them as money-grubbing “Yankee Hirelings” who lacked true patriotic devotion.  In response to this public affront to their motives, the ‘hirelings’ stormed the office of the Standard, tossed all the printing equipment and furniture into the street and kindled a roaring bonfire with the contents. Their slandered honor redeemed by the arson, the men of the 1st nursed their wounded masculinity by firelight in the streets of the capital. The simple libel was not the true cause of the attack, however; rather, the pent-up frustrations over their dearth of combat opportunities were likely the true catalyst for the outburst of violence.   

Meanwhile, Oscar made the return to Croydon and convinced his older brother, Alonzo to enlist with him in the company being raised by his old friend from the 1st, the twenty-one-year-old Ira Barton, to join the newly commissioned three year 5th Regiment of New Hampshire Volunteers being raised at Camp Jackson. 

Among the earnest patriots reporting from all over the Granite State were Ira Barton and his Sullivan County boys. Their mysterious and stern commander, Edward Ephram Cross, proved to be a strict disciplinarian, drilling them through the days and instructing NCOs and officers through the night. Experienced men were in demand and Captain Barton appointed Oscar as 1st Corporal of the newly minted Company E. Under Cross the regiment began to take on its distinctive form. Oscar, however, more than likely feared the towering redhead, who didn’t hesitate to strike his men with the flat edge of his sword for minor infractions. Cross’s draconian discipline would translate into battlefield prowess, though it was hard to realize then.  

On October 29th the 5th formed under its new colors and boarded the southbound trains to the tune of ‘The Girl I left Behind Me.’ Arriving at Camp California outside of Washington D.C, winter proved to be a mere extension of the routine of Camp Jackson in Concord as the 5th perfected its drill and martial bearing.  

Oscar Allen Poses in His Corporal Stripes. Accessed via New Hampshire Veterans Association, Weirs Beach NH.

The 5th was ultimately assigned to the new 2nd Army Corps. Widely acclaimed as the “Democratic Corps,” it proved to be a haven for those willing to criticize the Lincoln administration. New Hampshire’s deeply Democratic leanings were reflected in the composition of the Fifth. Miles Peabody, a volunteer from Antrim recorded: “You cannot find hardly a Republican in this regiment.” The now Sergeant Livermore of Company K echoed Peabody, writing: “Colonel Cross was a Democrat, and when two years afterward the vote for the president was taken, the majority were for McClellan.” Livermore wrote further that the men of the 5th had “enlisted and before we fought we declared, when we said anything about it, that we were not going to fight for abolition.” Accordingly, the men of the Fifth were incredibly politically conscious. Newspapers were in high demand, and “next to letters from home the newspaper was the most welcome camp visitor.” When newspapers became scarce, the few men in possession of them would mount boxes and barrels and “read every word to a most attentive and appreciating audience and then he would be cheered to the echo.” Admittedly, though, although the boys of Sullivan County could still hear Durkee’s polemics echoing in their ears, many of the newly recruited rural farm hands like Oscar would have agreed with one of their own, Benjamin Chase, when he wrote that he: “volunteered to ‘see a little of the world’ rather than ‘stay at home and do nothing.’”   

The Gauntlet: Fair Oaks, Antietam and Fredericksburg   

Benjamin Chase and his comrades soon got their wish. In the spring of 1862, the 5th took part in George McClellan’s Peninsula Campaign. Eager to see action, Oscar cut his teeth at the battle of Fair Oaks, on the outskirts of Richmond, on June 1st, 1863. In helping to repulse a Confederate attack made on a lone Union Corps that had been stranded across the flooded Chickahominy River, Oscar’s introduction to battle was swift and brutal. Closing to within spitting distance, the 5th opened a destructive fire on the enemy. Captain Barton, proudly remarked upon his men’s bravery and poise in the heat of battle that his Sullivan County boys of Company E, Oscar and Alonzo among them “picked their men as a hunter would pick his game, not a man flinched.” Alonzo also remarked on his adrenaline-fueled gallantry in a letter home to Martha and Augusta: “After the first volley I had not the least fear, but rather an eagerness to get up to the rebels.” During the fight, Company E was exposed to what Lieutenant Dexter Reed of Newport described as “a heavy fire from the left flank.” In one volley, four men of Company E went down. Alonzo made note of numerous friends from Sullivan County who fell in the maelstrom: Lieutenant Reed, Lloyd Forehand and Sanford Barton were all struck in the thigh, Albert Miner was shot in the hand; Frank Hersey, Henry Stockwell, Ezra Miner, Corporal Thomas Barton, John Howe and Horace Chase were killed. Alonzo wrote that the bullet that struck Hersey “entered his eye and passed through, the blood spurting in jets. Henry Stockwell was also shot through the head and lived a day or two – even after his brains partly run out.” This was the reality of the adventure Benjamin Chase, Alonzo and Oscar had signed up for, and its devastating effects on their company were horrific. One of the shots that raked the Company from the left struck Alonzo in the back, “passing through the spine a little to the right of the centre and lodging near vitals.” He limped to the weary Captain Barton to ask permission to retire. Oscar, still at his post as Corporal, could only watch as his older brother, staggered through the torn and smoky woods. Caught between military and fraternal duty, his maimed and lifeless friends and neighbors scattered like human wreckage in the shattered woods, Oscar’s understanding of war’s grisly realities was completely turned on its head.  

The battle of Fair Oaks was over, and the scene proved grisly. Barton’s Company E had suffered the highest casualties, with thirty-one men lost, and six killed outright. Alonzo’s wound was grievous, Doctors worried that the bullet was too close to the spine and prescribed washing it with cool water. Alonzo received these baths via the rain pelting his unsheltered body. Captain Barton visited the hospital but became overwhelmed and “cried like a child” when Alonzo inquired about the decimated company. Barton told Alonzo that “ ‘We have no Company now – they are nearly all dead or wounded.’” Sentimental men of this era were permitted to cry, and Alonzo wrote that Barton was “a brave fellow” and that the battle had brought out his “real qualities;” but any illusions that this war was to be a grand adventure evaporated with Barton’s tears on the lawn of that field hospital. A more encouraging visit came later that week from Oscar, who plied the wounded Alonzo and a neighbor from Croydon with, “half a gill of whiskey apiece, which greatly revived us.” In a letter home, Alonzo assured his mother and sister that “Oscar was not hurt in the least and was in good health and spirits.” Alonzo implored Martha and Augusta to write to Oscar and inform him of his condition and location in a hospital in Philadelphia. Though the family had been spared the grisly sights of the battlefield itself, the war had officially arrived in Croydon. Fair Oaks would ultimately claim the lives of two of its sons, with four additional men falling wounded. They were to be the first of many. 

The 5th would not engage in as heated a battle as Fair Oaks for the rest of the campaign. Retreating to Harrison’s landing in July, Oscar could only try to make sense of the failed campaign. Without the strict orders and martial inspiration of Cross, who was wounded at Fair Oaks, the men of the 5th languished on the sunbaked plain under lax discipline. Worn-out uniforms and a tired countenance clothed the men who reflected that one in four of those who had marched out with the regiment that June, was no longer. But the men had gained confidence and conviction through their losses. They had conquered the gauntlet and, through their bravery in the thickest of the fray, had earned distinction as one of the finest regiments in the Army.   

During the Army of the Potomac’s subsequent move to reinforce General John Pope’s Army of Virginia in August, Barton resigned and Janvrin Graves took command of Company E. An outsider from Tuftonborough, Graves was known as a fighter but endeared himself to Oscar and the men of Company E by issuing whiskey to his men on the morning of the August 28th, the whiskey attained through less-than-legal means. He felt that Company E required some numbing of their bodies and minds in the wake of the exhausting Peninsula campaign. He noted that “the men were without shoes and their feet were very badly off . . . their clothes were torn badly” and as the heat of August waned into cool September, they “had no overcoats.” Earning the respect and trust of men whose political leanings championed white male egalitarianism and democratic self-government would be no easy task. Indeed, such deference would only truly be achieved through unflinching and effectual combat leadership… but the whiskey certainly didn’t hurt his standing.  

Pursuing Lee into Maryland, the Army of the Potomac confronted the invaders along Antietam creek. Before entering their second major contest, Cross, who had rejoined the regiment in August, ordered a roll taken— three hundred and one bayonets, Oscar’s own glimmering bayonet among them. Cross addressed the regiment: “We must conquer this day, or we are disgraced and ruined. I expect each one will do his duty like a soldier and a brave man. Let no man leave the ranks under any pretense. If I fall leave me until the battle is won. Stand firm and fire low.” For Corporal Oscar Allen, Cross’s martial resolution would have strengthened his own and inspired his personal leadership of his comrades as a junior officer in the lines  throughout the coming pandemonium.   

The 5th New Hampshire’s battle flags can still be visited today in the Statehouse in Concord, including the battle damaged state colors from Antietam. Accessed via New Hampshire Hall of Flags. Photo taken by Author.

On the afternoon of September 17th, Oscar and the 5th advanced past the famed Sunken Lane and into the cornfield beyond. Canister and shrapnel rained down upon the 5th like stinging hail. Eight men of Company G fell under a single blast of canister that tore the state colors in two and splintered the staff. Still, the regiment pressed forward. Advancing into the maelstrom, the 5th surprised the 4th North Carolina with a devastating volley. Corporal Nettleton of the mauled Company G, dashed forward into the chaos and seized the North Carolina state colors. A flanking attack finally forced Cross to withdraw until the men of the 5th found shelter in the blood-soaked Sunken Lane. Amid the piled dead in the road, standing over 6 feet tall– a red bandanna tied around his bare head and blood streaming from the wounds on his forehead– Cross roared “Put on the war paint!” Oscar and the men of the 5th streaked acrid black powder from their cartridges across their faces. Cross commanded “Give’em the war whoop!” and above the crash of guns the “horrid whoop” of the 5th rose “above all the thunder of the ordinance.” The intrepid leadership of Cross reinvigorated the wavering men. Inspired leadership and discipline determined the combat prowess of Civil War soldiers, and with Cross epitomizing the highest ideals of martial masculinity, duty to cause, and honorable manhood, the 5th drove the Rebels from the field. At the end of the battle only one hundred and ninety-five men answered the roll. Oscar was not among them.  

In the Cornfield beyond the Sunken Lane seen above, Oscar Allen would be wounded. Alexander Gardner, 1862. Accessed via Wikimedia Commons.

An exploding shell had driven shrapnel into Oscar’s head and left shoulder. Oscar found his way to the 5th’s field hospital in a nearby barn. Twenty-eight-men were crammed into the small space, all but four from the Fifth New Hampshire. Receiving the rudimentary care of the overworked surgeon, Oscar was eventually deemed fit for removal to the hospitals in Frederick. He arrived safely and began his convalescence which would last until April.    

That winter, the 5th New Hampshire found itself at the forefront of the suicidal assault upon Marye’s Heights during the battle of Fredericksburg on December 13th, 1862. Earning the distinction of advancing farther than any other federal regiment, the 5th New Hampshire and its national colors got within thirty paces of the indomitable stone wall at the base of the heights. However, the intrepid charge of the 5th proved to be in vain and the men were forced to take cover in the shallow swales in front of the stone wall. Refusing to retreat from their advanced position, the 5th only withdrew during the night, leaving hundreds of their dead and wounded on the field. Corporal Groves of Company K recorded “The Fifth New Hampshire is played out.” Only seventy men stood for roll call on December 17th, with one company only fielding thirteen men. Cross had been wounded again, and the next four officers in line had all been killed or wounded–the highest casualties of any regimental officer corps in the battle. The effects of the botched assaults on the heights and the Union’s ensuing bloodbath were heavily felt that winter throughout the Army of the Potomac.  For the 5th, the proud regiment’s morale plummeted. Surgeon’s Assistant William Child wrote that the 5th was “decimated, discouraged, disheartened, but not dismayed” by the war effort as a whole. They still believed fiercely in the cause of Union, but were utterly distrustful of their higher leadership, with some veterans of the 5th “declar[ing] emphatically” that they would never fight again “not on account of want of patriotism and devotion to duty, but because of a total want of confidence in those who managed the operations of the Army of the Potomac.” Fredericksburg represented the nadir of the Union army’s spirits to this point in the war.  It would take inspired leadership at the highest levels, as well as a monumental victory, to restore the army’s morale.  

Depression was doubled by frustration on New Year’s Day, 1863, when the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect. The regiment’s strongly Democratic beliefs resurfaced in response to the affront. One wary soldier in the 5th “suspected that emancipation was a ploy by the Federal government to grant equal rights to blacks. He insisted that the last reason that he was fighting was to elevate blacks and, for that matter, he cared little if they remained enslaved or not.” 5th New Hampshire historian, Mike Pride, writes that the Emancipation Proclamation “undermined the men’s sense of common purpose. . . They had persuaded themselves that they were not fighting to interfere with states’ rights to establish institutions as they saw fit.” Miles Peabody wrote that the Emancipation Proclamation “is not worth the paper it is wrote on” and lamented, “When I enlisted I supposed that I was to fight to restore the Constitution and the Laws . . . but I found out I was mistaken for it has been all nigger nigger.” Cross, confiding in the preeminent New Hampshire Democrat and former president, Franklin Pierce, huffed: “Did any one ever hear or know anything equal to the malice of niggerism!” These expressions were not the product of simple bigotry. Oscar and the men of the 5th had set out to defend the order of law and the institutions established by the American Revolution, and as each grave of a comrade was mounded over, those principles became dearer and their commitment to them fiercer. To the men of the 5th, the war had been hijacked by Republican radicals who cast aside Union in favor of dangerous racial equality. As the dark year of 1862 ended with disaster at Fredericksburg, the disgruntled men of the 5th were indignant that their true, unilateral cause of Union had become yet another item on the long list of casualties they would tally up that year.  

Twilight in the Rose Woods

The 5th’s political participation would continue past Gettysburg. In November of 1864, the 5th would be among the few regiments in the Army of the Potomac to vote for McClellan. Accessed via Wikimedia Commons

It was into this tumultuous environment that Oscar returned on April 10th, 1863 and was promoted to Second Sergeant on the 12th. Escaping any serious fighting at Chancellorsville, the 5th turned northward once more in June to pursue the Army of Northern Virginia as it marched into Pennsylvania. On July 1st, Oscar passed over the Mason Dixon and made camp three miles from Gettysburg. Rising at 4:30 in the morning on the 2nd, the 5th rushed into its assigned position over the Taneytown road. In the afternoon, the rumblings of battle spiked the men’s anxiety. Finally, at five in the afternoon, Cross received orders to advance and the 5th descended into George Rose’s woods to the west of the Wheatfield. Confederates had overwhelmed the Union Third Corps at Devil’s Den and sought to crush the Federal army’s exposed flank, rolling it up as it had done at Chancellorsville and Second Manassas. As the 5th advanced to within “a stone’s throw” of the 1st Texas and 15th Georgia, they came within deadly range of the veteran Texans’ fearsome .69 caliber smoothbore muskets. While preparing his men to charge the Confederate front, a sharpshooter, hiding behind a large boulder, shot Colonel Cross through the abdomen, mortally wounding him. Succeeding Cross as brigade commander, Colonel Boyd McKeen set the attack in motion. Advancing and firing, Oscar now held the important position of 2nd Sergeant, the anchor for the left flank of Company E where it would link to the right flank of the adjoining company. The knowledge of Cross’s death spread through the regiment. Biting back bitter tears of rage at the news of the loss of their commander and vowing revenge, the 5th pitched into the tangled fighting in the woods.  

Heightening the chaos, Colonel John Brooke’s Union brigade surged into the Wheatfield. Feeling the momentum of the re-enforcements, the 5th drove the Texans and Georgians back several hundred yards before stopping at Rose Run. Here the fighting stalemated. Crack veterans on either bank of Rose Run refused to surrender the field. A cacophony of noise reverberated in the woods and smoke clotted the rolling woodlot. Pressing their bodies against the trunks of the Ash, Chestnut and Oak trees for protection, the men of the 5th loaded and fired feverishly. With ammunition beginning to run low, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Hapgood, now commanding the 5th, wrote: “We still kept our fire, . . . I do not know why, only because we were put in there for a purpose, and as long as cartridges lasted, we were supposed to stay.” Remaining true to the martial discipline instilled in them by Colonel Cross, the men adhered to their duties on the front, even after they realized that their stand was hopeless.  In the Wheatfield, fresh Confederates counter-attacked and sent Brooke’s brigade reeling backward. Isolated in the Rose Woods, the 5th held open the path of retreat. At around seven o clock, the exhausted Granite Staters were relieved and withdrew in small squads.   

Throughout the night, the survivors gathered around the tattered colors. Another golden honor could be added to its folds, but around the spartan banners, scarcely a hundred men now gathered.   

Somewhere in the pandemonium along pleasantly named Rose Run, a heavy smoothbore musket ball, the same kind that had wounded Alonzo, killed his brother Oscar. His grave was marked, or some signifier left with his body; when he was interred at the National Cemetery that November, he, unlike so many of his comrades, was actually identified, and buried under his own name. But on the night of his death, he slept alone in the mauled woodlot. Today he rests alongside Joseph Bond, a comrade of Company E and an unknown fellow son of New Hampshire.

III: After Gettysburg Plaque on the Monument to the 5th New Hampshire Monument, Gettysburg PA. Photograph taken by Author.



On Monday August 3rd, 1863, Concord, New Hampshire busied itself with the start of a new week. Reports of a great victory in Pennsylvania had trickled in, but long casualty figures from many regiments had painted the town black. At 8 o’clock in the morning a train rolled in, and tired dirty men disembarked onto the empty platform. Two tall poles emerged with dull bronze spear points, wrapped in tattered red and white stripes with a blue field. The men wore dark but peculiar expressions. Their shoulders hung forward, and the threadbare blue uniforms clung distinctly from every contour, torn, stained with black, and crimson. An officer swung his clanking sword to his shoulder with his left hand, his right sleeve empty. Orders were barked, and the men quietly swung into ranks, careful to not disturb the businesslike hush of the capital. They marched down the street.  

Asa Macfarland, an editor of a local newspaper, might not have even noticed the remnants of the 5th New Hampshire marching home, but the faded blue vision carried past his window presented “a spectacle of truly affecting nature.” They were much less numerous than when they had left less than two years prior. Despite their sparse baggage, the men who did tread slowly along the boulevards towards the capitol seemed to carry with them the unparalleled weight of years of physical and emotional trials. In the late morning heat, they lounged in the shade on the statehouse lawn. Puzzled bureaucrats conversed with officers. What to do with these orphaned heroes?   

Nobody knew the 5th was coming home.  

 As the men of Company E departed from the depot at Newport for the seven-mile walk home to Croydon, grief for those who did not return spread through the town slowly. For the Allens, Martha had lost her son, Alonzo, his brother.   

Oscar’s death, among the legions of New Hampshire soldiers lost at Gettysburg, left an economic and social hole in the Allen household as well as within the Croydon community as a whole. Martha and Alonzo would mourn not only the loss of a brother, son and friend, but the primary bread winner for the Allen family.  

With Oscar gone forever and Alonzo left crippled by the war, Martha was forced to reconcile her losses not only before God at the local Congregational church, but also in her accounting books. Her husband, Hiram, had died in 1858. Alonzo was unable to perform any work due to his wound. The loss of Oscar could very well mean the loss of the family farm. In her application for a government pension, scarcely one month after Oscar’s death, Martha listed her furniture as the only wealth in her and Alonzo’s possession.  Due to the effective economic loss of both her sons, Martha was approved for a pension of eight dollars a month, five dollars less than she received when Oscar sent home his army pay.   

Buried 500 miles north of his brother, Alonzo rests in the same cemetery as his mother and father in Croydon. Accessed via East Village Cemetery, Croydon NH. Photo by Author.

Alonzo was unable to help. His wound from Fair Oaks had not healed. It had, in fact, gotten worse. The proximity of the one-ounce lead ball to his spine caused him constant and mind-fraying pain. Rarely sleeping more than three hours a night, Alonzo was described by doctors as “extremely nervous. Excitable. Timid and Restless.” Plagued by acute sensitivity over the entire surface of his body, he walked in a hunched-over position and could not bend over to the ground but rather was forced to squat. His inability to perform either mental or physical labor, disqualified him from his pre-war career as a teacher. Alonzo also applied for, and fortunately received a pension. However, he struggled with basic tasks throughout the rest of his life. Alonzo left behind a memorable note amid the paperwork of his pension application. In strained and shaken penmanship, Alonzo lists his dependents as: “I have never married.”  Living until June 13th, 1900, Alonzo applied for an increase in his pension three times and was approved each time. Despite the crippling injury the war had dealt him, his epitaph proudly reads: “Late Private Co. E 5th N.H. Vols.”   


Reinterred at the National Cemetery, Oscar was a silent witness to Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in November of 1863. Sleeping with his known and unknown brothers from New Hampshire, Oscar’s story is a potent reminder that there is no generic narrative of the Union Civil War soldier. His sacrifice, and the private sacrifice made by Martha, Alonzo and the town of Croydon, were done in the name of their Democratic conceptions of Union. Though an outspoken critic of emancipation as a war aim, Oscar can hardly be faulted for his devotion to the war effort as a whole. His fight to preserve the unity of the great American experiment is as valid as any other cause. His memory, and the memory of the soldiers of the 5th, serve as a reminder that the Union armies of the Civil War were not homogenous bodies, but that each soldier, company and regiment was a microcosm of American individuality.    



Allen, Alonzo. “Letter from a Wounded Soldier to His Friends at Newport.” National Eagle (Claremont NH), June 26, 1862. Vol. XXVIII. Accessed via New Hampshire State Archives, Concord NH.

Allen, Martha. Pension Application. Accessed via Fold 3.

Barton, Ira. Newport N.H. Jany, 14th 1863. Petition for Pension, Alonzo Allen. Accessed via National Archives, Washington D.C.

Case Files of Approved Pension Applications of Widows and Other Veterans of the Army and Navy Who Served Mainly in the Civil War and the War with Spain, compiled 1861 – 1934, National Archives, Washington D. C.

Child, William. A History of the Fifth Regiment, New Hampshire Volunteers, In the American Civil War, 1861-1865: In Two Parts. (Forgotten Books. 2017)

Coates, Earl J. and Thomas, Dean S. An Introduction to Civil War Small Arms. (Gettysburg PA: Thomas Publications. 1990).

Cross, Edward. Stand Firm and Fire Low. Edited by Walter Holden, William E. Rose, & Elizabeth Slomba. (Hanover NH: University Press of New England. 2003).

Kreiser, Jr, Lawrence A. Defeating Lee: A History of the Second Corps, Army of the Potomac. (Bloomington ID: Indiana University Press. 2011).

Livermore, Thomas. Days and Events:1860-1866. (Middletown DE: Big Byte Books. 2017).

National Archives. Complied Service Record of Oscar Allen, Co. E 5th NH. Accessed via the National Archives, Washington D.C.

Military, Compiled Service Records. Civil War. Carded Records, Volunteer Organizations. Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1890–1912. National Archives, Washington, D.C.

New Hampshire, Sullivan County. 1850 U.S. Census, Croydon. Digital images. Accessgenealogy.com.

New Hampshire, Sullivan and Grafton County. 1860 U.S. Census, Croydon and Lyme. Digital images. Familysearch.org.

Pfanz, Henry W. Gettysburg: The Second Day. (Chapel Hill NC: University of North Carolina Press. 1998),

Pride, Mike and Travis, Mark. My Brave Boys: To War with Colonel Cross and the Fighting Fifth. (Hanover NH: University Press of New England. 2001).

Redd, Rea Andrew. Gettysburg Campaign Study Guide: Volume Two. (Washington PA: Civil War Librarian. 2014).

Reed, Dexter. Newport N.H. Feb 6th 1863. Petition for Pension, Alonzo Allen. Accessed via National Archives, Washington D.C.

Schneider, Robert W. Novelist of a Generation: The Life and Thought of Winston Churchill. (Bowling Green OH: Bowling Green Popular Press. 1976).

United States of America. U.S Volunteer Army. State of New Hampshire. Enlistment of Oscar D. Allen. By Strugis. Concord, NH: 1st New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry (3 months), 1861


Narrative and map by Benjamin Maurice Roy, Gettysburg College.